Why it is so hard to be self-taught

Why it is so hard to be self-taught

It's time to be realistic about how long it can take to become good


4 min read

Are you a self-taught developer? Hey, so am I! You know how painful it can be finding the right material, the right sources that actually help you through learning? I do for sure. Learning JavaScript in an hour? I wish. For me, it's now almost 2 years that I am learning, and I make steady progress.

There are a ton of people out there—on YouTube, Social Media that will tell you, that you will become rich quickly when you just buy their e-book, book their course, follow them, retweet them. But does it work? Most of the time it doesn't. But it sounds so good, doesn't it? It sounds so easy. If you just follow this one tweets content then you could make it.

There is this joke about someone selling an eBook about how to become rich on the internet. Guaranteed success. And when you open it, there is only one advice in this book. Sell eBooks.

What makes being self-taught so hard?

You don't know what to learn and it which order.

What you should learn and above all in which order is absolutely unique to you. Not everyone starts with the same knowledge and goals. When you're wandering through the dark, every little light seems to be a clue to how to get ahead. They know exactly that you don't know where to start and that you are looking for help.

There is a whole market that wants to profit from you

I followed a downright rabbit hole on YouTube two weeks ago. I saw a video about affiliate marketing in my recommendations. From my many years of experience I know that affiliate marketing in most cases violates the law. Especially if it is done incorrectly, and I was curious what they would recommend there and whether they point out what laws you have to comply with.

It was not only as bad as I had feared, but even much worse. You know those Twitter lists “Use these resources to learn”. Exactly those sites that were always recommended were listed there to “make money fast”.

See, the thing about affiliate marketing is that you always have to point out that your recommendation is a paid recommendation. You can't hide your monetary intentions. If you do, you're in violation of antitrust law.

If I can't trust those people, who do I trust then?

Trusting someone is hard. Especially when it comes to making something your job, your career.

  1. write down exactly what you would like to do professionally. No, “100k a year” is not a profession, it's a perk. Whether you will ever earn that much is questionable on top of that.

  2. look at companies and individuals working in the field. And be careful here. There will be many who will pretend they can help you without ever having set foot in the field themselves.

  3. Get in touch with a person who works in the field. Sometimes it takes time and not everyone wants to network outside their job, but sometimes you get lucky, and it works out.

  4. Alternatively, if number 3 isn't quite your cup of tea, check out GitHub for open source projects you can help out with. In these projects often work developers who are actually full-time in large companies and support their hobby projects on the side.

Be very sceptical when someone asks you for money for seeking advice and help.

Learn public but don't turn into a guru after your first lesson of JavaScript

The biggest mistake people make on their journey to become developers is that when they hear they are supposed to learn in public and share their successes, that they directly think they have to sell themselves as influencers and gurus of content they didn't even know a week ago.

By doing so, you're just feeding into the vicious cycle of misdirecting other beginners. Learning in public means sharing mistakes. Sharing ideas and guesses. Admitting where you went wrong.

This way you can also connect with other beginners and learn together with them, organize projects.

But how long will it take?

Now to the point of how long it takes to get perfect. Years. Let's not kid ourselves. Sure you can do the basics in a year, but you'll never know as much as an experienced developer because you took a course, even if you completed it. And the more time you waste chasing gurus the longer it will take.

100k? Maybe someday. But keep in mind that with every week you waste following strategies that inexperienced people sell you, other people will pass you by, learn and become successful.

I know it is painful to realize, but perhaps this is a wakeup call for you so you understand that chasing the wrong rabbit doesn't get you anyway. It most likely will make you rather quit. And when you are ready, I'll see you around on GitHub.

Title Image: Photo by Tim Gouw: pexels.com/photo/man-in-white-shirt-using-m..